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Grandpa “Bones” Davis was a world class people watcher. I remember “going to town” when I was a kid and being left in the car with Grandpa because he didn’t like to shop. Parked along the main street, I’d want to go here or there and he’d say, “Just watch the people. They’re interesting.”

Granpda never made catty or cutting remarks, nothing negative, just insightful things like, “Look, that boy is walking exactly like his Dad, same motions, same gait.” Or, “Those people look like they’re having a good time.” Or, “Hey, they’re eating chocolate candy. How about us getting some?” Sitting with Grandpa in that car along a well-populated street is one of my good childhood memories.

So, I learned young to watch people. Now one of my favorite activities when I’m in a mall or airport is to watch people, especially older or elderly couples. I like the feeling in South Florida when I seem to be the youngest person in the mall. I’ve often seen 80-something couples strolling or sitting, demonstrating in a variety of ways they still value their spouse. It’s fun and offers a load of life lessons.

Grandpa would have loved malls and airports, neither one of which were part of his experience.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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I love my country. Wherever you are from, you probably love your country too. It’s called patriotism, “love of the fatherland.” Rightly understood and lived, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism.

Loving my country, though, does not mean that I believe “My country, right or wrong, but right or wrong my country.” It does not mean that I believe everything my country has ever done is perfect or right or correct or even in some cases moral. The USA, like all countries comprised of human beings, has some darkness in its record. Loving my country does not mean that I think every American leader is always correct or, in some cases, even admirable at all. Point is, I can love my country in spite of its flaws.

Christians believe they should “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” as they should because this statement is in the Scripture. Many Christians believe that Jews are “God’s chosen people.” This is also referenced in Scripture. But respecting or loving Jews is not the same as believing the modern nation-state of Israel is always right, it’s actions must be defended blindly, or worse, that loving Jews and appreciating Israel must mean Christians should dislike, reject, or worse, hate Arabs, Persians, or Turks, no matter what some of them may say or do regarding Jews or Israel. Just like my country, the USA, has flaws, so does Israel.

But a lot of conservative Christians confuse this issue. If some American television preachers aren’t anti-Arab, they certainly sound anti-Arab. They think this makes them biblical. In a similar vein, too many Christians use social media to demonstrate their Christian bona fides by making categorical, one-sided statements in support of anything Israel the nation state does, or making implicit and often explicit anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian statements. They think this makes them biblical.

But we should remember several things:

Love is possible despite flaws, otherwise none of us would be loved. We can love our countries, love Jews, and also love Arabs, Persians, and Turks. We can honor Israel as a nation-state without suspending our ability to critique its actions and without aligning against others in the Middle East and North Africa. The same is true in reverse.

Whatever your opinion of the “two-state solution” for Israelis and Palestinians, whatever your view of the Trump Administration’s December 2017 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, remember that God loves Palestinians as much as he loves you. Remember that your patriotism for your country is a blessing, while Palestinians long for an official country of their own that they may love. Remember to apply your Christian critical thinking and knowledge of theology across the board, for your country’s leaders and actions, for Israel’s, for those representing Palestinians, for all.

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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The famous are being fired, e.g. Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, apparently justifiably and long overdue. But I’m wondering about the suits in these corporations who are doing the firing. I guess Roger Ailes fits the latter as Fox News Chairman and CEO.

Point is, if an organizational culture overlooked such egregious behavior for years, likely more than just the famous were or are involved. When will they be held accountable?

And point is, we’ve found ourselves in a sea of allegations, which I do not doubt, drowning in what we mean. We all know what sexual harassment or sexual abuse is when we see it or hear about it, or do we? What are the moral and legal definitions and dividing lines, all of which seem to get lost in each news program panel discussing the latest guy to fall. I’m not by a long shot, for example, excusing "dirty" jokes or caddish behavior, but I do think these are different from abuse, assault, exposure, sex-for-promotion-propositions, pedophilia, etc. Meanwhile, we’re mixing them all together in our conversations.

The recent deluge of sexual harassment allegations got started with an October 5, 2017, New York Times piece detailing a list of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, then Kevin Spacey, followed by several other Hollywood figures. It seems this broke the dam and women finally feel enough comfort zone to tell their stories, including rape accusations against some of the rich and famous.

The United States Congress is now facing its own sexual harassment Waterloo. Yet to be determined is who was involved and how much public money was used to settle sexual harassment complaints. This follows sexual harassment allegations against Senator Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers.

Professional sports is not unscathed, most recently with high profile Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games due to domestic violence allegations. Many others in all sports, including gymnastics, are now under investigation.

Religion is not without its sexual harassment or abuse problems, from the Catholic Church, 1990 to 2010, to more recent problems among “conservative Evangelicals.” I know from my own experience as a longtime Christian organization administrator that our H.R. offices had to deal with male/female relationship boundaries and inappropriate behavior issues, so this is not just a Hollywood problem.

Not least among concerns is the sexual abuse allegations leveled over time by at least 15 women against then businessman, then candidate, now President Donald Trump. These have gone unresolved. President Trump has denied these allegations, saying they are the products of fake news, media bias or conspiracies, political smear campaigns, or are all just “locker room talk.”

One sidebar here: sexually inappropriate behaviors are not a partisan issue. Neither Republicans or Democrats have a clean record and neither party is much of an example about how to properly deal with moral or ethical breaches of its members. 

Let’s pause for some delineations:

Sexual abuse can occur in several different ways: pedophilia or incest, sexual harassment, sexual assault involving force, e.g. rape or sodomy, domestic violence, exhibitionism or exposure, unwanted sexual touching, obscene phone calls or texts, and more.  Sexual abuse is also known as molestation. When force is involved, it's called sexual assault. Sexual harassment can occur in many different forms in the workplace, much of it about power as much as sex.

In sports, some 90% of sexual abuse involves an older male and a younger female. All other possible age and gender combinations are represented in the last 10%. Likely this distribution applies throughout society.

The fact that sexual harassment allegations are pouring forth may be disheartening but they also might be looked upon as purifying. Finally, women are in a position to state their case and push for social change in how they're treated in the workplace and anywhere else they choose to go. 

On a moral basis the way forward is clear (and should have been clear long before). Men and women should treat each other with respect. Men and women should not cross moral boundaries, i.e. not engage in sexually related references and conversations, and certainly not engage in sexually related touching outside the bounds of preferably lifelong, monogamous marriage. If men and women observed moral boundaries, most sexually related incidents, "mistakes," grievances, or crimes would be eliminated.

So the need is not for more anti-sexual harassment training, not for more sensitivity orientation, not for more legal definitions, not for more H.R. policies, not even, I think, on an individual level for “therapy,” but for a renewal of common sense, religiously-based private and public morality. We all need a moral code to live by, and to "fix" this national problem, we must start with the heart, not the mind or even the body.

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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“Never talk about religion and politics in polite company.” So goes the old adage.  Now we could add, “Or sports, protest, and patriotism.”

We used to play flag football. Now its flag and football. 

If you want to launch a debate, or pick a fight, just weigh in on news stories reporting NFL players kneeling or sitting during the playing of the national anthem prior to a football game. Guaranteed you’ll get a rousing response, because feelings on all sides of this now multi-faceted issue are right on the surface.


August 2016, then NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for an NFL preseason game. In an interview with NFL Media after the game he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Later, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the NFL released a statement saying, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem." (The NBA has a clear, must-stand policy.)

Periodically during the 2016 NFL season, various players around the league emulated Kaepernick’s actions, but the reasons behind their protest began to broaden. Given the limited number of players involved, the protest may have been dying out, or at least was getting to a point it attracted minimal attention.

Then September 22, 2017, at a Huntsville, Alabama rally President Donald Trump called for owners to fire protesting players refusing to stand for the national anthem and encouraged fans to walk out on games when players protested. He also ridiculed the NFL for safety concerns regarding CTE, charged the game was being ruined by tighter safety rules, and used profane language to reference players.

This vigorous challenge by the President galvanized players, coaches, and staff across the NFL such that September 24, 2017, protests occurred throughout the league at virtually every game with more than 200 players sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. Some protests included owners and some locked arms or raised fists, while other players stood at attention.

Since this time, President Trump has periodically continued his push back on the NFL players and many fans nationwide have interpreted the players’ protests as disrespectful to the flag, dishonoring to veterans, police, and first responders, evidence of rich “whiny millionaires,” or “spoiled,” “entitled,” ungrateful athletes who are biting the hand that feeds them.

At the same time, the original meaning of protests—police brutality, killing of young black men by police, racial justice, or racism in general—have been rejected or set aside by many fans, NFL owners, and some coaches. And in much media, a focus on the original meaning of the protests has morphed from police brutality and racism to disrespect for the flag, police, and veterans.

Protesting players and those who support them have argued this is a First Amendment issue, that professional football players have the right to express themselves as much as any other American citizen. But a counter argument has been made saying professional football players on a field of play are “at work” so when they interject political protest “on the job,” whether during the national anthem or otherwise, they are in violation of common workplace expectations and policies that one should express one’s politics outside of the workplace.

Television networks have begun to skip coverage of the national anthem. October 17, 2017, the NFL owners and Commissioner met with players and the NFL Players Association Executive Director to discuss the matter and rumors suggested the NFL considered changing its policy regarding what is expected of players during the playing of the national anthem. But to date, no rule change has been enacted.

Protest Effectiveness

If the measure of the effectiveness of a political protest is the amount of attention it garners, then by any standard, Kaepernick and subsequent players’ protests have been eminently successful. You’d have to have been on Mars for the past few months to not know something about players taking a knee during the national anthem.

If the measure of effectiveness of a political protest is the number of people you recruit to supporting your cause, then Kaepernick and other players’ protests have been an abject failure, because NFL game attendances have plummeted, notables (nearly all White) are on record saying they will never watch another NFL game, and more importantly, the original intent of the protests have been wholly overwhelmed and displaced by patriotic concerns for the symbolism of the flag, i.e. few people are talking about police brutality or racism.

Other than earning its own Wikipedia page, perhaps the jury is still out on the ultimate effectiveness of this protest. But more than a year in, the controversy has not gone away and is not likely to do so anytime soon. One reason is that this protest and reaction gets to core matters in the American political culture—race relations, criminal justice, professional sports, and patriotism.

Everyone has an opinion, which may be good. What’s not so good is that the hyper-sensitive nature of race and patriotism writ large in the optics of a national anthem protest lead much of the public and/or media response to gloss over a number of critical considerations.


  • Until 2009, professional football teams stayed in the locker room to conserve game preparation time, so lining up for the national anthem is a relatively recent phenomenon in the NFL, one that started as much for the perceived profitable optics as any zeal for patriotism.
  • While the US Code calls for standing during playing of the national anthem this has never been enforced or considered a legal matter, so NFL players are not breaking the law when “not standing.”
  • As noted earlier, the NFL does not require players to stand during the national anthem, so players opting to kneel or sit during the national anthem are not in violation of league policy.
  • While a symbol vested with enormous emotional sentiment based upon a history of sacrifice and patriotism, the US flag is not sacred and thus protected from all desecration, including burning, stomping, wearing as clothing, etc., so the public’s veneration of the flag, while understandable and admirable, is not a legal or moral requirement of any citizen.
  • The First Amendment restricts government’s intervention upon citizen expression, but one’s freedom to speak or otherwise express oneself is not unlimited or apply to every life circumstance and an entire body of case law interprets this, plus, there is no absolute right to freedom of speech in the workplace.
  • Members of the public who consider it disrespectful to the flag and offensive when people do not stand for the national anthem and in turn call for players or others to be required to stand for the national anthem may have forgotten that the US has experienced similar dilemmas before, for example, no one can be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Colin Kaepernick may have been a poor spokesperson, given his penchant for wearing socks with police officers depicted as pigs and his negative comments not about issues per se but about the United States, but of course this is a subjective observation and whatever one thinks of Kaepernick, he is an American citizen with every right to express himself.
  • President Trump may be speaking for the feelings of many citizens regarding the form of the protest, but when he called players, in general, “S.O.B.s,” and attacked the NFL’s slow but progressing uptake on legitimate safety issues, he seemed to be baiting people more than making substantive comments.


The NFL players’ national anthem protests, and President Trump’s later and continuing follow-up, have produced considerable heat but not much light on the issues involved.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that opposing sides do not seem to be listening to each other. This is apparent in the virtual absence of any discussion of race relations or police practices, a wholesale media focus on the flag and the national anthem, and except for one NFL owners/players meeting, only limited attempts to discuss what prompted this protest and what, if anything, can and should be done about the issues involved. The focus of national dissension or discussion re the protests is not really about race and justice but about patriotism. This said, there is some response among leading players and at the team and city level where players are working together with police and others to find ways to serve their communities.

Another disheartening outcome of this controversy is the incredible fan and public reaction that, if taken at face value, willingly recommends silencing players’ freedom of speech or forcing players, via some corporate or legal coercion, to stand for the national anthem, or otherwise demanding compliance with what’s considered the appropriate action. The patriotic sentiment involved is understandable, but players have repeatedly said they are not aiming their concerns at the military.

Where the public’s reaction possibly would make sense is if the NFL actually had a policy on standing for the anthem, or if the league would make clear to players that what they do on the field is part of their workplace and employee relationship.  To date, the NFL has not done this and seems to not be sure what to do next to get itself out of a P.R. debacle. So one wonders if the issue is more the stumbling way the NFL has handled this protest than it is players’ freedom of speech, or even the nature or time of the protest.

Lastly, there are the national anthem and flag themselves. Aside from what the protests represent, the fact that players chose to express their views during the national anthem was a huge misstep in Kaepernick’s or later players’ strategy. It backfired on them miserably and would have done so without President Trump’s ill-conceived and needless intervention. If indeed some players wish to encourage serious discussion about race relations, police practices, and criminal justice in general, they would be well-served to find a way to express these views in a manner that does not appear to be undermining the free country in which they live. 

Some would reject this comment out of hand, even calling it racist because perhaps it is not sensitive enough to African Americans’ concerns. But this is not the point here. Martin Luther King Jr’s approach during the Civil Rights Movement was not to attack or dismiss the country in which he lived (which a small number of players have done but by all means not most) but to point to its unrealized ideals in the lives of Black citizens. He called people to a higher account. He did not tear down; he built up. He did not want to silence those who disagreed with him; he wanted to hear from those he represented, to give them a voice in the public space. This is a lesson Colin Kaepernick, and it appears many in the general public, missed.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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Immigration is a complex and controversial issue in these United States. But it need not be the intractable problem it appears if we developed more political will to decide upon a good and workable way to go.

I’m already on record supporting immigrants’ desire for American citizenship. I do not consider immigrants ipso facto a threat to American values and way of life. In fact, I consider immigrants a rich part of the American story. Their record of aspiration, pluck, hard work, and achievement are wonderful examples representing the best of American ideals.

I don’t understand any leaders, particularly those who call themselves Christian, who make all immigrants sound like terrorists. It’s possible, of course, that terrorists could come to this country via immigration, but it’s not clear this is happening or has happened, even in the recent Manhattan truck killer, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov from Uzbekistan, living in the US since 2010.

Categorical rejection of all Middle Easterners or North Africans as threatening potential terrorists is ethnic prejudice and parochialism. I don’t consider these attitudes American and certainly not Christian.

This does not mean I’m against protecting U.S. borders, developing a reasonable and defensible immigration policy, including banning immigration from some countries for periods of time if national security warrants it, nor establishing criteria for what immigrants must be able to demonstrate before they are permitted to enter, remain in the country, and begin a path to citizenship.

I do not believe that “everyone” from other countries has a “right” to come to America as an immigrant and thus the U.S. has no legal right to turn certain people away. To believe this is to believe nations should not or cannot exist.  None of this is anti-immigrant or racist as is often portrayed by the Left.

I don’t like the idea of a wall on the southern border of the United States. I know nearly 700 miles of fencing already exists along the 2,000 mile U.S.- Mexico border.  I realize this fencing may be necessary in contemporary security terms, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the reality or the symbolism. Building a wall to keep people out of the United States, for me, flies in the face of the Statue of Liberty and American ideals. But again, I recognize this may be my idealism and something that may not be able to stand in the face of hard reality. Or is there a better way?

As a nation of immigrants, we’ve developed notable legal immigration processes before, during the T. Roosevelt and Reagan Administrations to name two examples.  Why not again now?

At a minimum, Congress needs to do the following:

  • Recognize that the vast majority of immigrants want to come to the United States to secure the prospects of a better life for them and their children via the freedom this country and economy affords.
  • Secure American borders from those who wish to do us harm. This means we must develop a more sophisticated, coordinated, and administered system of accepting or rejecting internationals who wish to enter this country.
  • Develop a guest worker program that is logical and is easy to administer.
  • Create a process through which illegal immigrants presently in this country can work systematically toward American citizenship.
  • Develop a better and more extensive approach to teaching English as a second language and require immigrants seeking American citizenship to enroll, learn, and pass conversational English tests.
  • Recognize assimilation is not a bad thing, and it does not mean a person must reject his or her heritage. It means that the person who wants to become a citizen of this country works to develop basic knowledge and skills that allow him or her to function productively in this free economy. 

I do not reject illegal immigrants carte blanche. I do not think that as a category they are a threat to what makes America a good and decent free country. Rather, they are an asset who should be assisted, treated with dignity and respect, and then given certain incentives or expectations for attaining citizenship. Does the United States Congress and President have the political will to develop an immigration policy and process fit for the 21st Century?

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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imagesFollowing the now infamous Harvey Weinstein, we’re hearing calls for Hollywood organizations, including the Academy, to set up policies and protocols “to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” This is an admirable goal, if a day late and a dollar short. But I have a question, how exactly do you do this in an industry based upon moral relativism?

If an industry spends millions saying, “anything goes,” and then it does, on what grounds does it now condemn virtually any behaviors? And why do we believe policies generated in H.R., or therapy for that matter, will make the problem go away?

And lest we single out Hollywood and miss the greater problem, men in Sports, Military, Politics—on both sides of the partisan aisle—Business, Media, and even Religion have done and likely are still doing what Weinstein did.

In 2005, Access Hollywood caught then businessman-turned-TV-star Donald Trump on video tape, which later surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign. On tape, Trump said, "I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He went on in this tape to make significantly more lewd remarks. He was referencing kissing and groping, along with conquest attempts, women without their consent. All this he later dismissed as just "locker room talk,” but the talk show host in the same video, Billy Bush, lost his job.

The Catholic Church was engulfed in the early 2000s (though other scandals occurred earlier) with a sexual abuse scandal that eventually reached worldwide proportions. Dozens of men accused priests of exploiting them when they were children in the church.  Millions were spent in closed settlements and periodically similar sex abuse scandals continue to plague the Catholic Church.

In 2011-2012, the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal broke, badly tarnishing the reputation of Penn State University and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who died at age 85 in January 2012, some said of a broken heart.  Sandusky is now in prison, but the hurt among scores of young men and their families continues.

American professional sports, especially the NFL, has its own boatload of now seemingly regular sex harassment or assault or related domestic violence issues. Among the highest profile recently is Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. And even the U.S. military is plagued by sexual harassment and assault scandals, including at the highest ranks featuring “the swinging general” and “flirtatious” texts involving both married and non-married troops.

Since at least Francis A Schaeffer and others in the 1960s, some philosophers, theologians, or Christian pundits, including women, have warned us about moral relativism, the idea there is no right or wrong. This view sounded good to a culture that wished to throw off all restraints, especially sexual. But here we are in 2017 and we’re being overwhelmed by polarization, hyper-partisanship, crudeness, fake news, lack of integrity and character in “leadership,” declining free speech, racism, sexual harassment or assault...

None of what’s threatening us is a surprise. We’ve known all along that if we throw off moral categories what we have left is “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

The solution is not TV psychologists.  It’s not more stringent H.R. policies, though these may be needed.  The solution is certainly not Democrat or Republican.

The solution is nothing short of a revival of public cultural consensus re the idea of objective truth—the idea right and wrong—truth—existing outside ourselves and that we all are held individually responsible and accountable. This comes first and foremost from the Bible, the Word of God, and secondly from the Church teaching moral principles, speaking the truth with love, but by all means speaking the truth without compromise.

The Word of God long ago specified how men and women should relate morally, socially, physically, and in terms of mutual respect.  We don’t need new standards. We need a revival of commitment to old, eternal standards.

Without this renewal of belief in truth, meaning there is identifiable right and wrong, the centrifugal forces in our culture will continue to spin toward irrationality. 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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